Review: TAP-ATX showcase at SXSW

Guten Birds
Guten Birds

When you attend music festivals that aren’t in your hometown, it helps to either know some local people or do your research. Luckily for me, I made some great friends in Austin and the lovely and ever wonderful Rebecca let the rest of us know about the TAP-ATX show. And man, am I glad she did. Not only did it mean that we had another chance to see Big Phony (always a good thing especially as I couldn’t catch his earlier show) but it also gave us a chance to see Guten Birds again (yay!) and discover new-to-us music.

There’s only one thing better than finding a new band to listen to… it’s doing it live, with friends, on a patio in gorgeous weather. I was in music lover’s paradise! But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the show itself for a bit, not how much I enjoyed it… that will come later. ^^

Trash
Trash

TAP-ATX showcase at SXSW

The TAP-ATX showcase was the last show I caught at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year. It was an afternoon show on Sunday at Cheer Up Charlies and man, did it have the perfect laid-back vibe for an afternoon show, especially one on a patio. Hosted by Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) – ATX, the show featured two Korean acts – Guten Birds and Big Phony – and two Taiwanese ones – Queen Suitcase and Trash. While I was familiar with the Korean acts, having seen them both before (although I caught Guten Birds for the first time earlier in the week at the Seoulsonic show), the two Taiwanese bands were both new-to-me.

Guten Birds
Guten Birds

Guten Birds

First up were the Guten Birds and they quickly grabbed everyone’s attention. I said it before but it bears repeating, I love their sound and vibe. They have such a passionate, hardcore sound but at the same time, it’s combined with an obvious love of performing and a friendly, approachable vibe. Such a fun contradiction! What’s not to love about a band with a killer alt-rock sound that’s not afraid to have fun on stage… as witnessed by their rendition of “Swimming with Dolphins” complete with inflatable dolphin hats – which they gave to members of the audience afterwards. It’s both a great song and super fun to see live. I’ll bet that they converted some new fans with their performance.

Queen Suitcase

The Taiwanese band, Queen Suitcase was up next and they had a bit of a B52’s vibe which was fun. Sorry for the lack of photos but I stupidly forgot to take any, as I usually just cover the Korean acts. It was a solid set and perfect for a summer afternoon chilling, even if it was really March.

Big Phony
Big Phony

Big Phony

Big Phony slowed things down a bit with his acoustic set after the energy of the previous two acts but kept the audience’s attention with both his soulful voice and self-depreciating humour in between songs. The venue and setting were a good fit for him and his low-key vibe allowed the audience to concentrate on his music. While I love his voice, for me, it’s the lyrics that truly grab one’s attention. Songs like “But I Will, Everyday” are not just lovely but touch your emotions. In each of the Big Phony shows I’ve seen, he was able to create an environment where his music could resonate with the audience and this one was no different.

Trash
Trash

Trash

The final act of the showcase was the Taiwanese band, Trash and man, did they grab my attention. So much so that I bought their CD before we left. Pretty much as soon as they started playing I was hooked to their blend of hard rock, alt-rock and fabulousness. Between the sexy vibes coming from the lead singer, his powerful voice and their music, I didn’t have a chance. Plus they really knew how to play the crowd (just check the photo below) and whip everyone up into a music-loving frenzy. Unfortunately, I only caught about half of their set as we had plans afterwards but it was memorable and I’ve been listening to them ever since. Check out their song “Kiss” as it’s my favourite of what I’ve heard so far.

Trash
Trash

Final Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of music on patios (the Canadian in me loves anything on a patio) and the TAP-ATX show was a great example of it. It was a good blend of genres in a friendly, relaxed environment with great music and weather. What more can you ask for? Definitely happy I got the chance to see Guten Birds and Big Phony again, and that I saw Trash and Queen Suitcase. Check them all out if you haven’t already!

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday – this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it’s taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I’m the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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